Sex offender prison plan sparks anger

An Onley prison is to become a national centre for sex offenders in the summer.

People living near the prison say they have been kept in the dark about the decision, which will include an increase in paedophiles.

Pauline Jones, who lives near Rye Hill Prison, attended a recent meeting in the village hall.

She said: “The way it’s all been done is the problem.

“We’re not happy about it on our doorstep anyway but we received a flyer through the door that said they were holding a meeting for residents to discuss some changes that wouldn’t affect us.”

Neighbouring properties to the prison then received another flyer giving them two days notice about the meeting.

She added: “A lot of people have been away for half term so they didn’t have their say.

“When we got there they told us that basically they had already started the process.

“When we asked why they didn’t tell us it was going ahead sooner they said they didn’t want to cause us any anxiety.

“It seems they’d rather us be angry and anxious than just anxious.

“We don’t feel we’ve had the opportunity to protest against it. They don’t seem to care about what it might do to our house prices.”

She said there were a lot of concerned parents who live near the site. She added: “I’d say around 75 per cent of the people who live in this area have children

“At the meeting they said that a total of 625 sex offenders would be in the prison and 30 per cent of those would be paedophiles.”

Another resident, a father who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “I accept that any prison will have sex offenders.

“But they have no right to change the whole dynamic without a proper consultation. We have been kept in the dark and everything has been left until the last minute.”

He also raised concerns about added security, adding: “What are they going to do to protect youngsters living nearby?”

A spokesman for the prison service said : “Accommodating sex offenders together in one prison is more effective. This will allows us to focus specialist staff and resources to where they are most needed. We will continue to build on the quality work HMP Rye Hill is doing with this complex group of offenders, helping us manage the root causes of prisoners’ offending behaviour.

“The security levels at HMP Rye Hill will remain, ensuring that the public are kept safe.”